Thursday, February 27, 2014

Home Remedies for Toothaches

I had a cavity filled a couple days before Christmas and it turned out to be much deeper than the dentist had anticipated.  They warned me it might be painful and to come back if it got too bad. It did get quite painful, more painful than I imagined given I have had a root canal before.  Root canals are much more invasive than cavity fillings but for some reason I still do not understand, this filling was particularly painful.

I hurt Christmas Eve day but at this point, the pain was completely doable. Besides, I like to think of myself as a toughie. However, by evening I was miserable!  I washed a couple Advil down with a single neat Bourbon and slept relatively well given my condition; but I awoke Christmas Day in far more pain than I ever thought possible. The gums around the tooth that had been filled were swollen, black and bloody; and my jaw hurt so bad I could feel it in my brain.

Because it was Christmas Day, I couldn't bring myself to call the office which would inevitably drag my dentist away from his family. Instead, I reached out on social media. A friend on Facebook suggested rubbing clove on my gums. I was so very miserable that after only a very brief online consultation was I in my spice drawer desperately searching for cloves. Believe it or not, it worked like magic!  I wouldn't normally act so hasty, but I knew cloves are a widely consumed spice and would pose no danger. As it turns out, cloves have been used as an oral pain reliever long before today's current conventional dental care methods.

Why Cloves Work
Cloves contain eugenol, which is a powerful anesthetic and antiseptic that stops pain while fighting germs. Eugenol is a chemical compound and is widely used as an anesthetic; and it is supported by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. There are three forms of cloves and all are useful and beneficial for alleviating tooth pain. However, research suggests a clover oil compress may be the most effective application.*

The following are directions in how to apply cloves as an oral pain reliever in whichever form of cloves are in your pantry.  I used ground cloves and it worked magically well!

Ground Clove for Toothache   
  1. Rinse mouth with warm salt water (swish and spit).
  2. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  3. Dab finger under water and dip into ground cloves.
  4. Apply it between the gum and cheek.
  5. Rewash hands and repeat step 4 except this time apply to the inside gum if it hurts there as well.
It may sting briefly but the powder mixed with your saliva should help alleviate most of the pain almost immediately.

Clove Oil for Toothache
  1. Rinse mouth with warm salt water.
  2. Pour a 1/2 tsp of clover oil into a small container or glass.
  3. Drop a few drops of clove essential oil (use straight clove oil if that's all you have) and mix.
  4. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  5. Dunk a cotton swab or Q-tip into the mixture and gently press and hold where it hurts. 
Whole Cloves for Toothache
  1. Rinse mouth with warm salt water.
  2. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  3. Place 2-3 cloves between your gum and cheek where it hurts and wait for your saliva so soften the cloves. 
  4. Once soft, break cloves down to release its oils by chewing. 
*Remember, these methods are beneficial for helping to alleviate tooth pain but not for treating the cause of the pain. See your dentist if pain persists. Good oral hygiene is crucial for good health. Brush and floss teeth daily and see the Dentist every six months or as recommended by your care provider. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sweet and Sour Chicken (Gluten-Free and Healthy)

Serves 6 to 8

American-Chinese foods are usually loaded with calories and sky-high in fat, sodium and cholesterol; and rarely are gluten-free. Thankfully, here's one of my favorite Chinese Restaurant indulgences in a much healthier, make-at-home version. You may use store bought sweet-n-sour sauce but be mindful of its label and ingredient list. Store bought anything will have extra sugar and sodium as it's used as a preservative for longer shel-life; and a whole lot of other not-so-good for you stuff.  For those who are gluten-free, most condiments are loaded with gluten, so be watchful for that too.

Ingredients (Sauce)
1 tbsp gf cornstarch 
1/3c low-sodium chicken broth
1/3c red wine vinegar
2 tbsp frozen pineapple juice
2 tbsp chopped pimiento
1 tbsp tamari sauce
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tbsp honey, agave or maple syrup

Ingredients (Chicken)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 green bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 to 21/2 lb cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  1. Boil broth and cornstarch in small saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Whisk mixture until it thickens.  
  3. Add remaining ingredients for Sauce and cook 2 minutes. 
  4. Melt a dab of coconut or olive oil (spray is fine if you prefer) into a large skillet over medium heat and sauté onions, green peppers and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. 
  5. Add chicken, sweet & sour sauce, and continue cooking 3 to 4 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. 
  6. Spoon over rice and choice of vegetables.  

Health Benefits
This meal is loaded with flavor and packed with muscle building protein.  Lean proteins like chicken are key for muscle development and optimal hair, nail and skin health.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Easy Plank Exercises

According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), planking is one of the best abdominal exercises a person can do. It is an exercise that is effective for anyone wanting to improve core strength and balance.  It will tighten both stomach and back muscles as well as strengthen arms, shoulders, hips and pelvic floor.  By strengthening your core you are not only on your way to a flatter and sleeker tummy, but it helps prevent injuries. This is because a strong core allows a person to catch and balance oneself following a stumble instead of falling and getting hurt. Perhaps best of all, you can do this in the ease of your home because no equipment is necessary. Plus, for sit-up haters, there are no crunches. All you need is YOU and a couple minutes of your day. 

Basic Plank

  1. Place your forearms on the floor, elbows under your shoulders and extend your legs behind you while balancing on your toes as pictured above.
  2. Keep your back flat and maintain a straight line from head to toe.
  3. Tilt your pelvis slightly downward and simultaneously contract your abdominals (hold in not suck in).  This is to help prevent your rear end from popping up or sagging in the midsection.  Remember, your goal is to keep a straight line from top to bottom. 
  4. Start holding for 10 to 60 seconds and repeat up to five sets (so hold for x amount of seconds, rest, repeat, rest and do it again up to a total of five times).
  5. Your ultimate goal is hold for as long as you can without losing form.
  6. What you can do one day might not be what you can do on another day. Hold for as long as your body tells you to hold, which is typically longer than you think. So, when you think you've reached your max, try holding just 3 to 5 seconds longer. You will amaze yourself!

Plank With Arm Reach

  1. Position body as you did for basic plank.
  2. Once balanced, slowly raise and extend one arm out in front of you as far as possible.
  3. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds or for as long as you can (same concept as with basic plank).
  4. Rest
  5. Repeat with other arm and when finished, that is one set.
  6. Do 3-5 sets. 

Plank with Leg Raise
  1. Position body as you did for basic plank.
  2. Keeping the core stable as you have learned to do, contract your rear end and raise one leg up as far as you can without hunching or distorting the straight line from head-to-toe you have adapted for planking. 
  3. Hold 10 to 20 seconds or for as long as you can (same concept as with basic plank).  Rest if necessary, then switch legs.
  4. Completion of both sides equals one set.
  5. Do 3-5 sets. 

Plank with Arm and Leg raise

  1. Position body as you did with basic plank or as pictured above with hands flat on the floor directly beneath your shoulder.
  2. When you are balanced, lift both arm and leg slowly extending arm as you simultaneously raise the opposite leg.
  3. Hold 10 to 20 seconds or for as long as you can (same concept as with basic plank).
  4. Rest if necessary, then switch sides.
  5. Completion of both sides equals one set.
  6. Do 3-5 sets.

Beginner Superman Plank

  1. First position body into a basic plank.
  2. When you are ready,  contract your rear and tilt abdominals and then very slowly bend and lift one leg off to the side.
  3. Make sure to keep that head-to-toe line you have become accustom to and hold 10-20 seconds or for as long as you can.
  4. Rest and repeat on opposite side.
  5. Do 3-5 sets.

    Advanced Superman Plank

When you successfully complete Superman Plank, and if you have access to a Bosu, use it to preform Superman as shown in Advanced Superman Plank to increase difficulty.  In fact, adding a Bosu to any plank will increase difficulty in addition to building and strengthening your core fitness.

By now, you are feeling and seeing the fruitage of your hard work. Keep it up and feel free to Google more plank alternatives.